Hubs help farmers tackle numerous challenges

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Not everything’s perfect yet. But Farmers’ Hubs in Nigeria can earn good money. Potential areas for further growth include advice, machinery, and insurance. Our recent training session explained.

Each June, UN World Food Safety Day focuses on avoiding foodborne risks. This year’s theme was “Safer food, better health”. In Nigeria, our Foundation took the opportunity to organize a training session for the managers of Farmers’ Hubs. The training took place at ICRISAT in Kano.

“Our aim was to address the multiple challenges facing Nigerian smallholders”, says our Country Program Manager, Isaiah Gabriel. As he reminded participants, these include “lack of access to information, financial services, insurance, quality inputs, mechanization, markets, and infrastructure".

Isaiah pointed to Farmers’ Hubs as an integrated solution. He also highlighted the importance of partnerships, for example, those in mechanization services with Hello Tractor and Agridrive. As Isaiah freely admits, the “Hubs have not yet solved every problem”. Advisory services remain an area for improvement, for example. But our Foundation is making great progress on “cross-cutting themes such as digitization, youth engagement, gender inclusion, and climate change", he noted.

Our Monitoring & Evaluation officer Blessing Michael presented total Hub revenue for the first five months of 2022. The businesses in Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Abuja, and Nasarawa had engaged in a wide range of activities, Blessing made clear. These brought in the equivalent of about $293,000 by the end of May. Putting the numbers up in public is designed to encourage even greater efforts by managers in the second half of the year.

Crop sales lead the way

To help them do so, Blessing went into greater detail. She explained that 42% of Hub's revenue had come from vegetables and fruits, with grain adding another 25%. Fertilizers accounted for 18%. Sales of crop protection products, seeds, and seedlings together added about 15%. So far, mechanization has not had a major impact on Hub earnings. Blessing expects this to change in the next planting season. She foresees “significant revenue” from tractor services.

Also among the speakers was Mohammed Ahmad Liman, Director of Royal Blue Contractor. For the last two years, he has been a Network Manager, servicing 17 of the 22 Farmers’ Hubs in Nigeria. Dealing with Hub managers has not always been easy, he declared. Challenges have included late payment, putting pressure on the Network Manager for credit purchases, and some breaches of agreements. However, these challenges were addressed during the meeting.